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    Farmerchuck’s hilltop farm sports Saanen goats, Icelandic sheep, guinea fowl, and a mix of all sorts of chickens. These animals produce meat, milk, eggs, and wool. Mixed in with these obvious agricultural creatures are a few oddities, but they, too, serve their purpose.

    Let’s take a closer look at farmerchuck’s resident hit squad: Phil, Gracie, Ursula, Sydney, and the rooster platoon.

      You’d never guess by looking at him, but Phil the llama has a positively murderous temper. He is a male and fixed, but he views the goat flock he lives with as his harem. Twice in the last six years coyotes have made the mistake of wandering into galloping distance and they’ve not lived to tell the tale. Farmerchuck has never lost a goat to a coyote, while the next farm over lost six last year to the pack that inhabits the ridge behind the farm.

       Gracie is the head of the canine security detail and a light sleeper. Last night she summoned Chuck around midnight and coyotes were soon dodging buckshot. During daylight hours she is out and about, breaking up rooster fights, and if any human spots a circling hawk a simple "Gracie! Where’s the bird?!?!" will ensure that the chickens remain safe.

        Ursula is the sheep herding expert of the pack. She is whistle trained – I know that the dreidel song means "get the animals away from the fence" and I’m starting to pick up the other tunes so she’ll help me with herding, too. She can help move the goats, but she dislikes being kicked and butted, and she doesn’t care to get down and nibble on their legs.

        Sydney is an Australian Shepherd and she keeps the goats in line, catching them young and teaching them that only one or two barks precede her sharp teeth clamping on their heels. The baby goats step lively when she is on the scene directing their movements.

         All three of these guys will face down a coyote, run off a hawk or turkey buzzard, and no rat is safe when they’re on the job. They refuse to bed down for the evening until farmerterri has taken them out for rat patrol - you get a lot of critters hanging around when you've got feed and fodder being consumed by hundreds of animals and this is a necessary activity when one is not willing to poison wholesale.

  They’ve not been tested yet, but Chuck suspects they’d also do a good job on the fat male black bear who shares the ridge line with the coyote pack. The blackies east of the Mississippi are quite different from the western and Alaskan bears. Here the getting of food is hardly any effort for them and they’re shy and retiring; Alaskan blackies, I was told, will stalk and eat humans.

       The rooster platoon are the last active members of the farm guard. These guys will go after a fox or a coyote, protecting the females, and they’re ferocious mousers, much more dangerous for those little guys than barn cats are.

       Not yet very active due to hoof problems that Chuck is slowly treating, but similar to Phil in temperament, mother Lillian and son Jasper will be equally hazardous to coyotes. They’re rescue animals currently undergoing a four year long rehabilitation of their badly neglected hooves, then they’ll be doing about half the logging duty once they’re ready for action. Oh, and black bears beware; those flying hooves have sent a farrier to the hospital and now Chuck is the only one allowed to touch them – they’re quite violent when provoked.


Originally posted to Stranded Wind on Wed Apr 30, 2008 at 03:07 AM PDT.


Favorite guard animal(s)?

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